This week we speak to BforB Wigan Regional Director Mark Ferguson, who is based in the Haydock area. He tells us why he thinks the BforB formula works so well for him. He has been a BforB member for over 7 years now…….

Mark tried every type of networking and meet-up you can imagine for quite a while, before he met the “right fit” for him in BforB. He remembers the day he first walked into a BforB meeting and recalls “It just felt different, I felt welcome and I knew it was right for me”!

Networking is a lot of fun – especially when a group of like-minded business people gather and help each other out. Mark believes that the “secret sauce” at BforB is the genuineness from each member to help each other. “The relationships work really well and we have none of the “quick-gain” networkers that often do the rounds at various events”!

Regrettably, a lot of people start with a networking group by looking for immediate gains, i.e. for favourable results for themselves only. How can you possibly build a relationship with a person when your objective is solely to get out there and just collect business cards? If this is what you are trying to achieve, you are networking for the wrong reasons and will be much more likely fail in the long term.

Many people think that the size of a networking group makes the difference in networking. But what numbers are they actually referring to? Is it the number of participants – or the number of referrals? We believe (and can prove) that it’s better to belong to a networking group of less people who can help each other on a regular basis then have a large group of people, that are not “actively listening out” for fellow members opportunities. It is not the quantity, it is all about the quality and consistency. At BforB, we are consistently passing and receiving high-quality referrals from within our close network groups.

Mark truly believes that by asking “open-ended questions” in networking conversations, it helps people to help you.  The “who, what, where, when, and how” type of questions as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.

He also believes that successful networkers become known as a powerful resource for others in the group. So, when you are known as a strong resource, people turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.

To get the most out of your networking experience, you need to build a relationship with all the people you have contact with in your group. Not all members will be able to help you, nor will you be able to help them, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t actively try to get to know them. Highly effective networkers and members always take the time to cultivate a rapport and relationship with fellow members.

Some Tips for being an effective Networker

  • Drop the “what’s is in it for me?” attitude.
  • Listen.
  • Build relationships.
  • Give the first referral.
  • Don’t tell others the referral you require; “show them” with a story.
  • Don’t be too specific of the type of referral you want.
  • Reciprocate when appropriate.
  • Thank the person who gave the referral.
  • Always follow up on a referral in a timely fashion.

Other networking groups come and go, but we believe our excellent reputation and staying power at BforB has been built on trust and a long-established success rate with quality referrals for many years.

Business networking is productive and fun, and that is why it will always be an integral part of the ‘bigger picture” for many businesses today.